RTÉ One, Thursday, 8.30pm
Ear to the Ground

Series 22: Programme 8

Ear to the Ground

While the Celtic tiger's dead and gone, the Chinese dragon roars
China is rapidly developing, with an emerging middle class and a change in tastes from tofu, to beef and dairy; what does this mean for Ireland, and do we have a part to play? Darragh McCullough is on the ground in China to give us the good, the bad and the ugly of the situation, and we see how Irish farmers are cashing in.

China has 20% of the world's population but only 10% of the world's farmland. With it's massive size, feeding the Chinese population poses quite the challenge and for some, opportunity.

Farming intensity and lack of regulation, have caused huge environmental problems, while China has also being plagued by food scandals. Darragh visits a small Chinese farmer to see how he's adapting to China's growth. He also catches up with Ian Lahiffe who has been living in China for 5 years working for Irish machinery manufacturer, Keenan. The growing appetite for meat and dairy creates a great investment opportunity to build large modern farms - these are are highly regulated which suits a Government trying to crack down on food adulteration.

Despite this no matter how much food China produces, it will still be reliant on imports. How is it worth shipping milk half way around the world?

Minister Coveney tells us dairy is going to do for Ireland what the car industry does for Germany. With growing potential now for beef, pork and sheep meat exports also, not to mention the old reliable infant formula. We follow Darragh to China to take stock of this exploding giant.

Helen takes a horse's manhood in Tullamore
In our minds, life as a vet is all Yorkshire and James Herriot, however, the reality can be quiet different. While prevention is seen as better than cure, the reality is animals get sick and despite today's technological advancements daily life as a vet is still a hands on job. Helen follows Tullamore vet Donal Lynch on a typical day when they do everything from gelding a stallion, to treating a sick cow calving and giving a bull an NCT in advance of breeding season.

Ear to the Ground is produced by Independent Pictures for RTÉ

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